Pre-Season: What is Going on With Haas F1 Team?
At the beginning of the season, American team Haas was set to race with their new VF-22.
Due to global events between Russia and Ukraine, the FIA and several countries have come out with statements regarding Russian drivers and sponsors.
Since then, Haas has made headlines after parting away from Russian sponsor Uralkali and terminating the contract for Russian driver, Nikita Mazepin.
After Putin ordered an attack on Ukraine Haas F1 announced it was dropping Uralkai livery for the third day of pre-season testing at the testing circuit in Barcelona.
The Russian company is owned on operated by Dmitry Mazepin, Nikita Mazepin’s father. Haas has now removed all Uralkali branding on its car and padlock facilities running in basic white livery. The Mazepin family is one of Russia’s wealthiest families with close ties with Putin. The mounting of sanctions has imposed complications on Russian businesses, oligarchs, and citizens. Even athletes have been impacted.
The UK has imposed bans on Russian and Belarusian athletes. The FIA is allowing Belarusian and Russian athletes to compete under neutral flags. Every day, the likelihood of Mazepin taking part in the 2022 season was becoming slimmer.
“Haas F1 Team has elected to terminate, with immediate effect, the title partnership of Uralkali and the driver contract of Nikita Mazepin,” said a team statement.
“As with the rest of the Formula 1 community, the team is shocked and saddened by the invasion of Ukraine and wishes for a swift and peaceful end to the conflict.”
Nikita Mazepin join Haas in 2021 but sparked controversy after a viral video surfaced on the internet of him grabbing a women’s breast. Uralkali became a huge asset to Haas when the pandemic started. Now, the team seems to be stable enough to sustain their funds after Uralkali’s exit.
But, Uralkali has demanded a full refund from Haas.
Uralkali is set to begin legal proceedings against Haas to reclaim all payments post contract termination. In hopes of reclaiming all of their funding, Uralkali states that money will be used to run a campaign, “ We Compete As One” athlete support foundation.
These legal proceedings are in Uralkali’s interest to protect their company. Uralkali has stated Haas’s decision to end its sponsorship deal due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “unreasonable” and believes F1 “should always be free of politics and pressure from external factors.”
Reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi will replace Mazepin for the Bahrain testing, but previous Haas driver, Kevin Magnussen will run for the 2022 season.